Recently, U.S President, Barack Obama came under criticism for the choice of African leaders invited to the White House for the U.S African Leaders Summit, even though the Zimbabwean Dictator, Robert Mugabe was excluded. Obama was also criticized for avoiding subjects like corruption and human rights issues during his opening address. Some of the controversial African leaders present where Kenya’s Uhuru Kenyatta, Rwanda’s Paul Kagame, Burkina Faso’s Blaise Campaore, Angola’s Jose Eduardo, Nigeria’s Goodluck Jonathan, Cameroon’s Paul Biya, Gambia’s Yahya Jammeh, most of whom preside over countries with poor human rights records and excessive corruption. But the Head of State that sharply caught my attention was President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo of Equatorial Guinea.
President Obiang took power from his ‘mad’ uncle who hung his opponents from street light poles in 1979. This implies that he has been head of state for 35 years, making him Africa’s longest serving dictator. And since then, he has ‘won’ the Presidential Elections with more than 99% of the votes. Of course, through electoral fraud! Following in his uncles footsteps, he has shot and jailed his political opponents or anyone he considers a threat to his continued stay in power. But President Obiang is not only heartless, he is hopelessly corrupt.
Despite Equatorial Guinea being one of the biggest oil-producing countries in Africa and he boldly boasting a personal wealth of more than $600million, he’s far from generous with his riches. The average income of his citizens is $2 a day. An overwhelming number of citizens are very poor and clean water is very scarce. They hardly live beyond 53 and infant mortality is so high that 20 per cent of children die before they reach five years of age. Last year the country ranked 163 out of 177 on Transparency International. The country has no freedom of the press whatsoever and the country’s one television station is government-run.
In 2011, the United States’ Department of Justice made moves to seize more than $70 million in assets from President Obiang’s son, Teodorin Nguema Obiang. Justice Department lawyers alleged Nguema, on top of his official government salary of $100,000, used his position to amass more than $100 million through corruption and money laundering, including a $30 million dollar mansion in Malibu, California and a $38.5 million Gulfstream jet. He
was also the focus of a corruption investigation in France who seized his 101 room Paris mansion, a collection of cars and other luxury assets.
President Obiang obviously doesn’t care about citizens of his country but busies himself creating all sorts of means to steal money from them. His acts are very despicable and of course, should be condemned. However, he is not the only African Head of State with such terrible records. They are actually so many of them; heartless, brutal and hopelessly corrupt with countries having very poor human rights records and riddled with conflicts. It is an extremely sorry situation that these clueless African leaders do not recognize that their actions shape the future of our dear Africa. For Africa to grow out of its present state of perennial poverty, conflicts and lack of opportunities, the Era of mad, power drunken dictators and leaders must end. Africa must find a way of developing Africa and it must start by getting rid of these hopeless, corrupt leaders. Enough of constantly relying on Western help.